Desert Island Bones
The first album I ever owned, although it actually came free with the portable mono record player my Uncle Arthur (RIP) bought for me when I was not yet a teenager. As I had no other records it was played to death and this song was the first of many that I would become totally obsessed with.
T - REX - TELEGRAM SAM
The first single I ever bought. When I hear it now I am still transported back to Rediffusion in Penarth and handing over my hard earned pocket money for this piece of vinyl heaven. God I loved Marc Bolan...well at least until punk came along.
The band that I've stuck with the longest, having seen them live 21 times from the late 70's through to last year (see review of Royal Albert Hall gig here). When people debate the origins of punk it usually revolves around bands like the New York Dolls, Iggy and the Stooges, Ramones or Sex Pistols. But in my world, punk was launched with only seven words..."Is she really going out with him?"
The Clash were the only band that mattered. The Pistols were more controversial, the Damned more comedic, the Ramones probably more authentic, but the Clash were the "Last Gang in Town" that everyone wanted to be a part of. Cool as f*ck, this song showed them at the height of their powers.
XTC - THIS IS POP
Whilst infatuated with punk, the other band that I fixated over at the time was more New Wave. Whilst I bought their releases for many years, I valued most the first two albums when Barry Andrews provided the jerky synth sound that made them stand out from the crowd.
Whilst now viewed as something of a joke, for a short time in the mid 80's Sigue Sigue Sputnik seemed fresh and exciting. With motor-mouth Tony James at the controls they were particularly adept at garnering press coverage for themselves. They only sold tickets for their Cardiff gig in a local hair salon and the audience comprised largely of journalists hoping to report on their latest outrage. In truth their star burned bright for barely six months, but I still have a soft spot for them.
From the opening "Revolution" I was hooked. These snotty, arrogant, outspoken yet intelligent Valley punk guerrillas caused me to obsess in a way I had not known since a teenager. In my head they were the Clash reincarnated and I bought all releases on multiple formats, attended gigs all over the country and argued vehemently that they were definitely "4 Real". Sadly those days have long gone and my feelings for the band have diminished, but when I hear this track I still get the same adrenaline rush as three decades ago.
Whilst largely forgotten about in the UK, the nineties heralded a resurgent in punk rock on the other side of the pond. Rancid were at the head of the bands coming out of California and the LP "Out Come the Wolves" was their masterpiece. This track showed that Oi! had finally emerged from the shadow of racism that had dogged it fifteen years earlier.
S*M*A*S*H - BANG, BANG, BANG
The New Wave of New Wave was a short lived, largely manufactured scene, that provided two brilliant bands in These Animal Men and S*M*A*S*H*. Whilst TAM appeared aloof, S*M*A*S*H were unfailingly nice blokes who were always prepared to spare a moment to chat or share a drink. Their gigs were notoriously incendiary and this video/song captures the sheer excitement of seeming them live. (And is unavailable on Spotify...so I added something else by them instead - Ed)
I loved this song for no other reason than it reminded me of XTC (see above). I played the debut album to death, in fact to the point that I got sick of it in the end. Reformed last year, but I doubt they will ever reach these heights again.
If ever a band managed to throw away success it was the Towers of London. With their own TV show and a lead singer in the Big Brother house they should have been bigger than the Beatles. But that was part of their charm in that they really didn't seem to give a toss. Spending my 50th birthday back stage with them at Southampton Joiners (review here) will live long in the memory.
A recurring theme of bands I gravitate to are they have a touch of arrogance. Whilst barely out of school these boys, and in particularly lead singer Tom Clarke, were always having it large. Great gigs and they toured relentlessly in their early years. It was sad to attend their farewell tour in 2016.
See previous playlists here